Friday, September 30, 2016

Owlcrate Unboxing September 2016

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This was my third and final box of a three month subscription, and the one that would decide whether or not I would resubscribe. The theme, as revealed in the August box, was "Darkness".

This box was absolutely wedged - I think this is the most we've gotten in a box over the past three months.

First up - the book. The choice for September was Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. This is about three queens, triplets, equal heirs to the throne on the island of Fennbirn. One can spark flames at will, one has the power to poison, and the third can control nature. The night the sisters turn sixteen - the life-or-death battle for the crown begins.

It's not my usual genre, but as with all other Owlcrate books, I'll happily read it and report back in the October round-up. Also included with the book was a paper fortune teller, a signed bookplate (I bloody love these) and a letter from the author.

The spoiler last month told us that we'd be receiving an item from Out of Print inspired by Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and here it is - a gorgeous black canvas print featuring a quote from the book. The bag contained a card with a $5 discount code for the site.

The spoiler card for September is a fabulous owl print, and we got a badge to match. We also got badges last month, it makes me wish I still had all my badges and bottletops from the 90s!

Next up are two great little items - the fortune telling bath bomb by Da Bomb Fizzers is a cute addition, and what makes it cuter is the story behind it - the company was set up by two young sisters who loved bath bombs. Every bomb has a surprise inside - in this instance, it's a yes/no, so you can treat it like a one-off fizzy magic eight ball!

The candle, named "Celaena's Cake" is by The Melting Library and it's inspired by the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. This was created exclusively for Owlcrate and smells unbelievable - like cake, caramel, cookies - really sweet and sickly in the best of ways.

We got some bonus reading material this month - the 36 page first installment of a new weekly serial. There will be 15 episodes, it's a dystopian series about teenagers left to save the world. A number of different authors are involved, this one is written by Matthew Cody.

The bookmark is inspired by Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows, exclusively created by Evie Bookish

The little 'passport' is very cute, it's actually an excerpt from the upcoming book Moon Chosen by P.C Cast.

The last thing in the box was the spoiler card for the October theme, and it will be.............*drumroll*

Once Upon a Time! The box will contain an item from Whosits and Whatsits. They've got a Hocus Pocus item on the front page of their site, so YAY.

So - the big question. Did I resubscribe?

Abso-bloody-lutely. This is the best subscription box I've tried to date. By a mile.

If you want to sign up, they offer a 15% discount for new subs - use WELCOME15 on the website to avail of it.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what the next three months bring.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Books I Read in August

Not Sponsored or Paid | ARCs Clearly Defined | Review Policy Here


This month started off great, but slowly went into a decline when I went on holiday for a week and only read one book, then I came home and rediscovered Netflix. I watched Stranger Things (loved it so much I might do a post on it) and the first season of Gilmore Girls for about the eleventh time. That guitar man still wrecks my head (Babette comes a close second). Anyway - I've started my Christmas crafting (fellow crafters know that Christmas season begins in August) so that means my reading has to take a back seat, but rest assured I'm still getting through my books before they take over the entire house.

In August, I read 12 books, 1 short story, and abandoned a book for the first time in ages.

The Rick O'Shea Book Club

The choices for August were Solar Bones by Mike McCormack and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate by Naomi Klein.

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
This was a real treat - fans of Donal Ryan, Eimear McBride, or Sara Baume may enjoy. It's essentially a 200+ page sentence - there are no full stops in here - but it just works. It's about a man, an engineer from Co. Mayo, sitting at his kitchen table reminiscing about key moments in his life. I still don't know how the author managed to cover an entire life without a full stop, but he did, it's beautiful, and it works. There's a little too much info on the back cover for me, but it was still incredibly enjoyable nonetheless, I ached for it when it was over.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate by Naomi Klein
Ahh, the one I abandoned. I'm all for a bit of discussion on climate change, on what we can do to help and what we can do to ensure that our planet will still exist for future generations, but this book just made me feel like it's too late - capitalism took over, greed took over, money took over, and we destroyed our planet. We haven't met targets, we haven't done enough, and we haven't put the planet first. We're screwed, basically. Every chapter was another example of how screwed we are. I got about half way through and couldn't read it anymore, it was making me miserable (which I suppose is the point, to be fair). A bit too academic for me.

Short Story

Kindle Singles are small eBooks that are very cheap to buy. Most of them are under €1, and there are a huge range available, from essays to classics, novellas and tie-ins. You can check the full range out here.

Guns by Stephen King
King is one of those authors who sucks me in no matter what the subject, so I wanted to see what he thinks of America and guns. It's only a few pages long (25) - it's just an essay on what he believes would improve the current situation. He's a gun owner himself, so he's not proposing an outright ban - but what he says makes a lot of sense. He also talks about the decision to pull the Richard Bachman story Rage from publication.


I've blogged about Owlcrate before, and in August I received my second book. I also read the book that was sent in the July box.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Young Adult. A fantasy story about Good v Evil, and two teens who find themselves on opposite ends of the scale. But how do they know that the good side is really good, and who are the evil ones? Enjoyed this, even moreso because a boy and girl were able to work together without the inevitable insta-love clichés.

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Young Adult. Pure escapism - a teenage girl writes some song lyrics on her desk at school and is astonished when she sits down the next day and finds a reply - so begins a pen-pal type relationship with a mystery person. It's obvious and it's predictable but it was a lovely escape for a few hours and very sweet.

Young Adult

I tend to read a lot of Young Adult books, especially in the Summer. I decided to give Cassandra Clare a go after enjoying the short story from the Stephanie Perkins collection last month, so I chose The Mortal Instruments series.

City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments #1 by Cassandra Clare
Enjoyable fantasy tale about a girl named Clary Fray who is dragged into a world of demons, shadowhunters, and vampires. A bit childish in places but enjoyable.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I thought this was a gay story about two teenage boys who find solace in each other - instead it focused on one whiny teenage boy who makes a connection with another but tries to hide it. I understand that this may be something that many teens identify with, but at its core nothing happens. One of the characters is interesting, funny, kind, spirited - unfortunately, he's not the one we hear most from. Disappointing.

Nothing Tastes as Good by Claire Hennessey
I love seeing Young Adult books by Irish authors, more please! This one is about a girl named Annabel who has died. In order to be granted a request, Annabel must take on a charge - but she gets stuck with an overweight girl. The horror. Annabel had serious issues with food during her life so she assumes that her job is to make the girl lose weight, but as time progresses she realises that she may not be right, and that she may need to face up to a few things. Enjoyable, easy to read.

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
I saw this sitting by the counter at Charlie Byrne's bookshop on a recent trip to Galway and I had to get it - I hadn't read it in years. It's a charming, heartwarming children's book about a boy named Tom who goes to stay with his Aunt and Uncle for a Summer, and discovers a magical garden that nobody else can see. I adored it and I remembered why I repeatedly borrowed it from the library as a child, it could have actually been one of the first books that ever made me cry!

Trouble by Non Pratt
Hannah is a fifteen year old girl who is popular with boys for the wrong reasons. She has a bad reputation - so nobody is really surprised when she ends up pregnant. New boy Aaron has transferred from his old school but he's hiding something, he agrees to pose as the Dad of Hannah's baby to help her and help him feel like he's doing something worthwhile. I enjoyed this, I liked Hannah's sense of wit and I liked the portrayal of teen pregnancy as awkward and gritty, not glam and attractive.

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (Received as an ARC via NetGalley)
The reason I requested this on NetGalley was because I had heard that it drew comparisons with Girl, Interrupted by Susannah Kaysen, one of my favourite books as a teenager. There were similarities, but they're completely different books and deal with somewhat different themes. The main character is struggling with self-harm, and this was graphic and hard to read in places. This took me over a week to read, which is unusual for me. It was only okay, I thought.


Fat Chance: My Life in Ups, Downs, and Crisp Sandwiches by Louise McSharry
Louise McSharry is probably best known in Ireland as a radio DJ, and has come to the attention of the media over the past few years after her experience with cancer - this book is all about her childhood, her teen years, her career, her experience with that damn disease, and her life to date. It's a funny, warm, touching memoir and I want Louise to move in with me so we can eat pizza and play with makeup. Her outlook on life is refreshing and her confidence and attitude are inspiring. Loved it.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child: Parts I and II by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, & J.K Rowling

And there it is...
Hogwarts. Never seen this view of it before.
Still get a tingle, don't you? When you see it? 

I pre-ordered, like so many others. I even used Address Pal so that it'd get here on publication day. I had a countdown on my diary. I wondered if I should save it until I finished reading the original Potter books but I couldn't help it - I lashed into it.

It's in play format, which is fine, but it completely lacked the magic that J.K Rowling brings with her descriptions. I wasn't keen on the storyline, I wasn't keen on the relationships between the older characters, and I hate what they did to Ron. He was never going to rule the world, but he's practically a parody of himself in this. Massively disappointing, but my expectations on this one were always going to be enormous and I'm not sure if anything would have lived up to what I wanted. It was nice to revisit certain characters but I'm not counting it as part of the series, to me it reads like Fan Fiction.

And that's it!

I'm not sure if September will be a great reading month, but we'll play it by ear (it's the 8th today and I haven't finished one book yet). See you for the October round up!